It’s almost always sad when a place closes but what is often a source of more consternation is when a pale imitation of the same idea is next to give the location a try. It happens way too often and does my head in.
I was sad when Swedish Affar closed on Royal Exchange Square in Glasgow as its icy white sleekness and fine Swedish pastries were rather smart. In its place is the almost polar opposite style of place in the shape of fiery BBQ purveyors Smoak.
This wasn’t my first encounter with Smoak as I’d visited their van during the 2014 Edinburgh Festival having just missed them when they used to trade in Glasgow’s Pivo Pivo, which is now Kitty O’Shea’s.
As I crossed the threshold I made a note that they open at 8am, which I suspect will come in handy for a breakfast time visit, in the future.
But today it was their lunch menu that held my attention. I was drawn in by talk of a mac n cheese burger, mainly because I’d enjoyed the one at the sadly departed Meat Hook so much, so ordered one of them. I added a side of fries.
Things soon arrived, delivered by the very attentive and welcoming front of house man. The first thing that struck me was how peely-wally the chips looked. They proved nicely seasoned and pretty tasty, but they didn’t look right at all.
The burger proved to be solidly decent. The celeriac remoulade was the outstanding item as it packed good crunch and flavour. The mac burger had good outer crunch, but didn’t offer the expected attack of cheesy goodness. It was a satisfying and filling eat, but just a little bit underwhelming.
So overall, Smoak was a trifle too polite a version of a BBQ restaurant for me. I think Edinburgh’s Reekie’s Smokehouse remains well out in the lead for this type of thing. I’ll return for breakfast as I have a feeling that will be more to my tastes.
Blythe scores Smoak
3.5/5 for food
3/5 for presentation
4/5 for service
3.5/5 for setting
giving an overall 14/20
I ate: mac n cheese burger; dripping fries
I drank: water
I wore: action footwear
Address: 6 Royal Exchange Square, City Centre, Glasgow, UK G1 3AB